What is the Best Way to Grow a Service Business? (Advice for Trades like Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical)
In my perspective, the trades are the ideal service industry. They necessitate expert labour and sophisticated equipment, making them recession-resistant in most cases. Nonetheless, the cost of launching a new business is modest.
Plumbers, electricians, HVAC, and other tradesmen, unlike "luxury" products like house cleaning or pet sitters, have work to do regardless of the economy.
Even if people are cutting back on their spending, they will not forego having a functional toilet.
So, if you're thinking of starting (or have already started) a trade service business, congrats. You can work for as long as you desire.
However, just because a service firm is in high demand does not mean it is simple to run, manage, or expand.
Growing a service business is one of the most difficult things I've ever attempted. Yes, I've been there before. I understand how difficult it is.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to expanding a service business. There are far too many variables at play for a single set of rules to apply to every circumstance, region, service type, and consumer base.
At some point, intuition and personal experience must take control.
It can be difficult to take a step back and evaluate the larger picture when you are busy working on your business. This is when articles like these come in handy. They can serve as a helpful reminder.
The Most Important Thing in a Service Business Lesson #1: Customer Service
Sure, customer service is crucial, you would think. Reread the preceding sentence. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT consideration.
Customer service takes precedence over the quality of your work. Customer service takes precedence above the price you charge. Customer service is more important than brand recognition.
Customer service is more crucial than any other aspect of your company's operations.
Yes, your work must be up to the challenge. Yes, competitive pricing is beneficial (although genuinely exceptional customer service allows you to charge almost anything you want). Yes, your branding should be distinctive and appropriate for your intended audience.
Customer service, on the other hand, is the actual king who reigns supreme over all.
Your service business's chances of success surge if you master customer service. Take the effort to streamline and maximise your customer service experience while you're small or growing.
Understanding your consumer is essential to providing excellent customer service. It entails going above and beyond what your competitors are doing. Find out what these things are by listening to your customers.
Early attention to customer service will help you grow more quickly, with fewer problems and greater success.
Lesson #2 in How to Grow a Service Business: Systematize Everything
In my personal life, I'm not a huge admirer of regulations, but in my business, I enjoy them. The key to growth is to have a control and a workflow for managing every task in your business, from marketing to greeting a customer.
"The greatest way to forecast the future is to create it," remarked Peter Drucker (generally referred to as the "Father of Modern Management").
You are designing the future when you discipline yourself — and later your staff — to follow a system. With practised and measured behaviour, you are determining the outcome.
It's all about shaping the future by following through, anticipating requirements, spotting possibilities, and saving time.
Time is your most significant asset when it comes to growing your service business. It will always be in short supply. Growing your business entails increasing the amount of labour you undertake.
Because you can't clone yourself, multiplying necessitates recruiting.
A system is essential if you want to maintain constant quality. No one will ever be able to do it as well as you, but a system with step-by-step instructions will get close.
It simplifies training, responsibility, and success measurement.
McDonald's became extremely popular as a result of their system. (If you haven't seen The Founder, I strongly advise you to do so.) They were able to provide clients with a better, more consistent experience by building a system.
Even employees desire to have a clear understanding of your expectations. It gives people the impression that they are successful in their employment. "What gets measured gets managed," says another Peter Drucker quotation.
Rules are something that people crave, even if they don't like them.
Lesson #3 in How to Grow a Service Business: Hire Wisely
In a service industry, there is no way to avoid recruiting. What we do revolves around people. That is, until robots take over the planet.
Employees will always be your most valuable asset and source of frustration.
Nothing I can say will prepare you for how time-consuming hiring people is if you haven't already done so. That is said with love for each and every one of my staff.
Hiring takes a long time. It's exhausting to train. Managing people can be difficult at times.
Make sure you're clear about the role you're hiring for. Define the role in detail. The first step in preparing a potential new employee for success is to write a clear job description.
This isn't usually an issue for field employees. Their task seemed to be simple enough.
Office workers are where the majority of the issues occur. When employing office help for the first time, resist the desire to ask them to do everything.
You have a lot of things on your plate that you'd like to get rid of. You're used to wearing multiple hats as an entrepreneur. You would expect an employee to think the same way.
They are not going to do it.
Don't expect to be disappointed. Specialization is frequently a sign of an excellent employee – someone who could not work for themselves. They could be a terrific long-term employee if they have the correct expectations, training, and role.
It's like looking for a unicorn when it comes to finding a "generalist" who can answer the phone, manage your marketing, finances, get permits, and keep track of your schedule.
Even if you locate that individual, they will most likely perform mediocrely in all of these areas. They're not going to be very good at anything. That expectation is unattainable.
The majority of small firms cannot afford to engage specialists for every task. When you have three employees, you don't need an HR manager. That's why I advocate outsourcing as much as possible.
Many companies provide operational support in the back office. These are also known as virtual assistants. Even if it's one of your major headaches, you don't have to use a call centre to handle your phone calls.
Starting with non-customer-facing items is a good place to start. Data input, bookkeeping, marketing, email, and mail monitoring All of these duties — and more — are simple to outsource.
It's less expensive and more convenient than hiring a slew of different workers (or looking for a unicorn.) Determine the most crucial role and hire solely for that position.
The following is some further hiring advice: Allow yourself plenty of time to discover the proper person. Spend the time necessary to educate them. Before hiring friends or family, exercise extreme caution.
To be honest, it's best for your business if you don't recruit family or friends. (This from someone who works with their entire immediate family, including their spouse.)
Managing people's behaviour is one of the most difficult aspects of establishing a service organisation. That brings us back to the fact that service is a people business. It can't be avoided.
Communication and maintaining connections are two of the most difficult tasks we face as humans. Sure, some people are more natural at it than others. Don't underestimate the difficulties that this causes for most service business owners in the early stages.
Our product is people. It's only part of being human that our product has flaws. People make mistakes (including you), which means you'll have to deal with them on occasion.
The most difficult aspect of learning how to establish a service business is grasping this concept. The secret sauce to creating a great service business is figuring out how to lead people with grace, strength, organisation, and clarity.
Consider yourself ahead of the game if you are good with people. If you're concerned that you'll have trouble with leadership, look for opportunities to learn.
Growing a service business is a thrilling but dangerous experience. Keep in mind that entrepreneurship is full of ups and downs. You had this insane idea that you could do it all by yourself, and you've proven it.
Now comes the difficult part!
Is it possible to grow a service business and duplicate your own success? That is a difficult question to answer. It isn't appropriate for everyone.
I have faith in you.